A Double Dose of Kale, Steak for One and the Death Fruit — Critical Moments

by in Shows, November 4th, 2012

Chef Spike Mendelsohn and Chef Tim Love on The Next Iron Chef: Redemption
Although Chef Guarnaschelli’s splendid lobster dish made her the deserved winner of a return trip to the beach, for me this first challenge was all about Chefs Greenspan and Love.

A chef with less talent and confidence than Chef Greenspan could have easily crumbled at the thought of having to cook with grasshoppers again. His critter fritters, however, were one of the surprise hits of the day, as indeed was his grilled cheese grasshopper sandwich — although maybe less surprising as he is known for making one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches on the planet. Either way, it was definitely enough to keep him safe for another week. If it weren’t for a succulent morsel of Chef Guarnaschelli’s perfectly prepared lobster, I would have made him my winner.

On the other hand, Chef Love’s confidence was misplaced. If you are going to serve a salad on The Next Iron Chef, it had better be the best salad you’ve made. Chef Love’s kale salad wasn’t — and all three judges felt it scarcely warranted the hour-long cooking time. Insult was added to injury when Chef Love told us that he had also found time to make a juicy steak for himself while he was cooking. Perhaps if he had served us some of that as well, he might not have found himself in the Secret Ingredient Showdown battling Chef Mendelsohn, whose own dish was, quite frankly, just a confused mess.

This week’s secret ingredient was pineapple. I liked the sharpness of the pickled fruit Chef Love served with his quail in his final dish. I was turned off by the appearance of deep-fried kale on the plate, however, a definite “up yours” to the judges who had put him in the bottom two. Even if I had not been so irritated by this, Chef Mendelsohn’s dish was for me the winner anyway, bringing the perfect balance of salt, sweet, sour and heat that I look for in any Southeast Asian-inspired dish.

It was certainly good enough to ensure that Chef Love was the first to hear Alton say those dreaded words, “I’m sorry, but you will not be The Next Iron Chef.”

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Comments (199)

  1. ICHoax says:

    Alton Brown could care less who wins – as long as he gets to be clever and witty as host.

    IC Zakarian appears soft spoken, composed, fair, and balanced. No agenda other than to not look overwhelmed as the Iron Chef representative.

    Simon is above this crowd – so he is painfully dumbing himself down as he judges the retread entertainment cooks assembled before him. This is not representative of the best chefs in North America and he knows it.

    Donatella is the women's advocate – her leanings are too obvious. No integrity – she is the political plant who will impose her advocacy through deceitful language, veiled threats, and clever twists to distract others from the food before them…

  2. fan22tastic says:

    I tuned in to watch really excited about the new season of Iron chef and the first thing I see is losers. Spike Mendelson and Marcel have been in so many competions and never won. Food Network conciders them contenders for next Iron Chef. That not only makes this show a joke but also makes Iron Chef a joke. They are just going for ratings. Marcel couldnt even last a full season on his own show. Once I saw Marcel I turned the channel.

    • CindyF says:

      "Marcel couldnt even last a full season on his own show. Once I saw Marcel I turned the channel. "

      To be fair, it was a reality cooking show on the SciFy network of all things. How many people are really likely to tune into a science fiction channel to watch a reality show about cooking…

      I am gonna take a wild guess and assume that the majority of people who even watch cooking shows probably never even knew the show existed unless they also watch that channel a lot. I was watching scyfi everyday around the time that showed would have aired and never saw a single commercial. I would have remembered too seeing as it would have been so out of place for the network.

  3. mise_en_place says:

    To reiterate what I said on another blog: I question whethher some of these chefs have the versatility and stature to qualify as Iron Chefs. I would love to see Cindy Wolf, Nancy Olsen, Hubert Keller, CHARLIE TROTTER, Thomas Keller, Patrick O'Connell, Michel Richard, etc. than some of these wannabes. How about Art Smith or Jonathan Waxman for both personaliy and cooking chops? Drawing competitiors from Top Chef rather than Top Chef Masters diminishes the level of the competition, but if you are going to focus on former Top Chef competitiors get serious and bring in the Voltaggio brothers or Kevin Gillespie. Of course, all of these people have businesses to run and may not have the time or inclination to commit to the competition. That being said, it was obvious that Tim Love didn't take this seriously. In other venues he has appeared to be a laid-back and entertaining personality. It is hard to know if what is broadcast is an accurate portrayal or if editing has created a false impression. In any case, I am often suprised and impressed by the vision some of these chefs demonstrate.

    • Dancer says:

      Seems as if this season would benefit from more impressive competitors. I know that the network feels that people watch because of the personalities, but there are some stellar chefs with great personalities who would satisfy both the gourmands and the reality TV fans.

    • FanFare59 says:

      I agree. However, the chefs you sited here may be too busy to enter a cooking contest of dubious rewards.

    • Julia in WA State says:

      I had to add a "hooray" to go with the thumbs up mise enplace. The Voltaggio brothers would have been great for NIC or even Richard Blaise. Or if they wanted to get someone drama filled but a damned great Chef…the winner of cycle three of Top Chef 3 Hung Huynh or Top Chef Texas (horrid show) but Paul Qui won and rightfully so. Why or why Spike again or Marcel at all? Drama.

      • FanFare59 says:

        The chefs you site are from Top Chef. I thought that NIC were chefs drawn from winning more than one battle in Kitchen Stadium against existing IC. If the NIC cooks couldn't cut it, then they can't be considered as viable candidates. Most of the contenders are past losers (Spike is several times over on another network, btw).

        • mise_en_place says:

          Many of the chefs named in my original post have never competed at all. Add Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripard, and Emeril to the list of chefs with serious stature whom I would like to see compete. Clearly the NIC chefs are not drawn from those who won on ICA. And that is not a valid criterion for choosing competitors anyway. Consider that the Iron Chefs often compete against each other in special challenges where one (or more if it's a team challenge) will lose. So losing to an Iron Chef hardly disqualifies a competitor.

          • FanFare59 says:

            I disagree. The point of being named an Iron Chef implies that the chef is unbeatable or at least mostly unbeatable. It doesn't make sense to allow proven losers into what is allegedly deemed a superior class of chefs.

      • mise_en_place says:

        Thanks, Julia. And thanks for respecting the others who post here by presenting well-reasoned and literate responses.

  4. hypnobarb says:

    Just dropped by to say that I'm not watching. Michael Symon was the last Iron Chef who really deserved to win the competition.

  5. cherrycooks says:

    While I've cast most of my (almost daily) votes for Chef Falkner, I wouldn't be disappointed if Chef Guarnaschelli wins Next Iron Chef Redemption. I think a woman should win, and either of these ladies would be an asset to Kitchen Stadium.

    • Julia in WA State says:

      cherrycooks. While I appreciate the ladies in the kitchen, many rock it hard like my very favorite chef of all time and biggest rock star of the culinary industry Julia Child – I would only want her to win if she was the best. If a woman is the best, then let her prove it. If a man comes out on top, then he should win. Someone shouldn't win just because "a purple person hasn't won yet" or "a woman hasn't won yet".

    • All Mighty says:

      I agree with your stament about a women needing to win but Chef Falkner is not that one who should win at all. i cant stand her at all Alex Guarnaschelli or Amanda Freitag should and i do oh so hope they win this year.

  6. ICHoax says:

    This season is "The Next Sous Chef"…

  7. MoHub says:

    Spike needs to stop overthinking and strategizing and just cook. It got him in trouble on Top Chef in two seasons, and had he not thrown everything he could find on the plate in the Chairman's Challenge and just concentrated on the scallops, he would likely not have wound up in the cook-off.

    On the other hand, I have to agree the Tim Love just didn't seem as committed to winning this thing and perhaps shouldn't have been there in the first place.

  8. beachy12 says:

    I love that Alex won the first competetion. I hope she wins. I think she has what it takes and I think she is very down to earth, friendly and real. I hope the blonde chick that losts last time doensn't get close, don't like her.
    The iron chef of course has to be able to really cook but also needs to have a good attitude, etc. or I won't watch them. Love was doomed from the beginning. I mean he acted like he didn't care, for him to cook a steak and make himself a drink when he could have done more with kale was unbelievable. He didn't take it serious, then he made himself a drink again. Be true to your style but come on Love was out of line and out of place. I like Zakarian, at first, on Chopped, I didn't like him and at first on Iron Chef last year, I didn't like him but he seemed to finally listen to them a little and he put forth an effort to not be so rebellious I thought.

    • 1Dishy says:

      I aso hope that Chef Alex wins it this time. Remember kids, she makes a lot of Chef Zakarian's dishes on Iron Chef–she doesn't just chop veggies for him. So when he wins, it's also a win for her (although she doesn't get the credit). Agree with everything you said about Chef Love: when he was making that damn salad, I was yelling at the TV: "make kale two ways you idiot!" I mean, it is an Iron Chef competition after all. (A salad? Really? And then to tell the judges that you had time to make yourself a steak and eat it, not Iron Chef behavior.)

    • All Mighty says:

      I cant stand Faulkner. You ask me she needs to go back to doing what ever it was that she did before trying to be an Iron Chef. And what im hoping will be loseing 2 times at it.

  9. B.Guy says:

    I don't think it's fair for Goeffrey Zakarian to be a judge, considering Alex Guarnaschelli is his souz chef on ICA. Also, what's up with contestants from seasons 2 and 4 being the only ones able to get redemption? What about Ming Tsai or the others from season 3, and John Besch, Aaron Sanchez from season 1? And why put Tim Love and Marcel whats-his-name when they've never been on the Next Iron Chef? Could they not get anyone else from the other seasons to participate? If you're going to make the season about redemption, make sure you have candidates who qualify for redemption on this particular show.

    • 1Dishy says:

      I was wondering some of these same things. Perhaps some of the better chefs who should have been on the show just didn't wish to participate (or have the time) this goaround. Would have liked to see Aaron Sanchez, Ann Burrelle and Robert Irvine, at a minimum.

    • All Mighty says:

      Love was on ICA in 2007 against Morimoto and did infact win but you ask me he screwed the pooch from that dam salad. I would have loved to have see Ming Tsai, John Besch, or Aaron Sanchez some of the best guys i had watched on this show from the start there were a few others from season one i wouldnt have minded seeing again as well.

  10. techdavis says:

    Chef Love didn't really take the competition seriously. He knew it was an Iron Chef competition, but still played around, cooking for himself rather than upping the ante on his dish. Then, his dish in the cook-off with Spike – I honestly think he wasn't in it to win. He put a little effort into a competition he thought he had down cold, he got angry with being in the bottom two, and was entirely too cavalier about the whole thing. It's almost as if he were put there to lose the first battle (since he had no "redemption" to start with), so all the "real" competitors would feel good about not going home first.

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